Fort de l'Esseillon was built on a rock that protrudes inside the valley. It is a very strategic position. There is a whole string of mountain forts, both on the French side and on the Italian side. As they are, evidently in strategic positions, they have breathtaking landscapes. They are not in use anymore and can be visited.more
Termignon, at elevation 1336 m is a nice mountain village. The church has originally been covered with locally produced slate but a the quarry is no more in service, slates from Spain are now used to replace broken ones. Most houses are covered with rusty corrugated iron. I hope they will be replaced by lauzes !more
The first summit on the left is "Pointe du Grand Vallon", 3136 m. After that, on its right, there is a pass, Col du Grand Vallon, 3124 m.The peak in the middle of the photo is Le Grand Roc Noir (the great black rock), 3184 m. It is indeed black as it is too steep for the snow to remain on it.On the far right, Pointe de la Fraîche, 3467 m will be...more
After the pass, the road goes down into the Maurienne valley. After about a kilometer, on a belvedere, a panoramic viewpoint indicator allows to identify all the summits. As the quality of the picture has to be downgraded for VT, I expect that it will not be possible to read it. I will try on next tips to give the names.more
When Napoleon passed the Mont Cenis, he swear he would build a pyramid. He did not and it was finally built by EDF in 1968 to remind the hospice and the "chalets d'alpage" that were flooded by the lake behind the dam. A small museum reminds the history of the Mont Cenis, from the Romans to the building of the dam.more
In winter, the lake is entirely frozen and on early May, a part of the surface had still its ice crust. On this close up on the surface of the lake, the ice crust looks relatively thin and it has been broken by both the wind and the sun. It is too late to walk on the ice and the ice crust should disappear completely before the end of May.more
There existed a natural lake at the Mont Cenis but in 1962 EDF (the French public electric company) decided to build a huge dam made of compacted earth. It is 1400 meters long and the top is 12meters wide, its highest height is 120 meters. When full, it contains 315 million cubic meters of water and can produce 600 GW/h. A hospice was built in the...more
In Alpine passes, there is often before the last climb a flat zone. This is the case for the Mont Cenis road, which is here straight for several kilometers; After that, the road climbs to the pass, drawing. 5 hairpin bends. The white posts are here more clearly visible. In the background, the mountain is Mont Lamet, 3478m.more
The border is on the eastern side of the pass, beneath the last kilometers of the road, which are very steep. If you enlarge the picture, you will see in the foreground the road sign telling that you enter in the Rhône-Alpes region of France (no more custom office at the border !). In the background, the white posts along the road show where it...more
The railway of the "Compagnie ferroviaire du Mont Cenis" was inaugurated in 1968 June 15th. The train connected Saint Michel de Maurienne and Susa (79 km) in 5 hours instead of 12-13 h for stagecoaches.However, it was abandoned three years later when the railway passing the Fréjus tunnel was open and took only 21 minutes for the same connection...more
Driving is by far the easiest and the most satisfactory way to view the magnificent landscapes along the Susa-Modane road. The road is good and most of the time wide enough.
However, you can consider cycling if you have a good physical condition. I did it once, a good many years ago and enjoyed it a lot.
In German, it is called Wilder-crocus (wild crocus). In Italian Zafferano-salvatico (wild saffron). In French Safran des fleuristes (florist's saffron), safran bâtard (bastard saffron). It's scientific name is Crocus verna.Enlarge the picture to see that a population in the background is white while another population (not easily seen on the...more
The wild Spring crocus is most of the time violet but white populations (shown on this photo) exist too as well as speckled flowers. It is also cultivatd for its flowers and there exist cultivated varieties of various colors, including yellow. It is a close relative with cultivated saffron (Crocus sativus) but does not give any saffron powder.more
This small plant, which belongs to the Iris family, is also very common in the Alps. It can grow well over 2000 m (here close to the pass, 2084 m). In mountain meadows, it blooms immediately after the mantle of snow has melted and it gives carpets with thousands of thousands of flowers.more